Whether your holidays are low-key or filled to the brim with activities, enjoying a favorite spot or special event is one sure way to savor the season. From cutting your own Christmas tree to ice skating under the stars, Missouri offers a multitude of ways to create memorable holiday traditions.
Climb aboard a wagon pulled by a pair of Belgian horses for a trip through the Christmas tree fields at Meier Horse Shoe Pines Tree Farm near Jackson. After you select a white pine, Scotch pine, Norway spruce or cedar, a field worker will cut your tree and prepare it for the trip home. You can even climb aboard a wagon pulled by a pair of Belgian horses for a ride out to the tree field, which is open the Friday after Thanksgiving and on Saturdays and Sundays until Christmas. The farm also offers fresh wreaths and garlands at its Christmas shop.
At Starr Pines Christmas Tree Farm near Boonville, take a hay ride through the tree-filled fields to select your own Scotch pine or fir. Saws are provided to cut your own tree, which is wrapped so you can easily transport it. Pre-cut trees are also available. While you're there, enjoy hot spiced cider, visit the craft and antique shop, and meet the resident mules. The farm is open daily Thanksgiving through Christmas.
Colorful light displays will transport you to a winter wonderland during the Festival of Lights Nov. 13 – Jan. 3 at Powell Gardens in Kingsville, about 40 miles southeast of Kansas City. More than 20 miles of lights will complement the garden's expansive landscape and architectural features. Visit a greenhouse transformed into a holiday-themed tiki bar complete with tropical plants and music.
The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis will sparkle with more than a million lights during Garden Glow Nov. 11 – Jan. 2. Indulge in s'mores, hot chocolate and holiday-themed drinks. Special events include traditional Chanukah and Kwanza celebrations.
For many families, the Christmas season is not complete without holiday lights. A flip of a switch on Thanksgiving evening reveals thousands of jewel-toned lights outlining every dome, tower and window in Kansas City's Country Club Plaza. The lighting ceremony has been a treasured tradition for more than nine decades. The lights will illuminate the 15-block shopping district Nov. 26 through mid-January, creating a sparkling sight you'll want to see year after year.
Immerse yourself in more than 6.5 million lights and hundreds of decorated trees during An Old Time Christmas Nov. 7 – Dec. 30 at Silver Dollar City in Branson. The celebration – one of the nation's top Christmas events – features a Christmas light parade, holiday music, specialty shops, homestyle meals and sweet treats.
The award-winning Saint Louis Zoo will shine bright during Wild Lights Nov. 27 – Dec. 30. Stroll through the grounds decorated with a million lights and whimsical animal-themed displays. You'll find costumed characters and carolers spreading holiday cheer throughout zoo.
Christmas Traditions, Nov. 27 – Dec. 24 in St. Charles, combines yuletide traditions of yesteryear with a festive celebration featuring 80 legendary holiday characters, Victorian carolers, shopping and dining in the historic downtown, draped in holiday décor.
Glide beneath a billowy white canopy at the Crown Center Ice Terrace in Kansas City. The outdoor rink provides a view of the Mayor's Christmas Tree – one of the tallest in the U.S. Public skating sessions are held daily, except for Christmas Day, from mid-November through March.
Steinberg Skating Rink, the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the Midwest, offers public skating every day – including holidays – in St. Louis' Forest Park. The rink will be open from Nov. 13 through Feb. 28.
Written by Liz Coleman